On change, writing apps, overcoming creative block, pet peeves, and more

“Change is constant. Change is inevitable.” This applies to language, writing, and journalism too, especially in this age of technology. Perhaps at one point — when we were being sticklers for “proper” usage — we have corrected someone’s misuse of hopefully, literally, or enormity. However, people’s use of these words has changed, and we understand what they mean nonetheless, which is the point of language. Technology has also evolved, and it is changing how we write, edit, check for facts and plagiarism, and think about business. Here, we list recent stories on these changes, along with some creativity tips and fun reads.

 

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Taming Sentences | NYTimes.com

Author Kitty Burns Florey writes about diagramming sentences and what we can learn from it aside from … diagramming sentences.

What Can We Learn From Diagramming Sentences? – NYTimes.com.

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Talking With Your Fingers – NYTimes.com

 

We’ve heard people say that e-mail and texting encourage bad English and are signs that formal writing is about to die. But John McWhorter, author of “What Language Is, What It Isn’t and What It Could Be,” explains that “in the proper sense, e-mail and texting are not writing at all.” Read his post, part of the Draft series, on NYTimes.com.

 

Talking With Your Fingers – NYTimes.com.

Is This the End of Proper Grammar? Hopefully Not – NYTimes.com

So is the Associated Press’s move to allow the modern usage of “hopefully” a sign that proper grammar is about to end or is it just keeping it real? Clyde Haberman says his piece on the matter through his The Day blog on NYTimes.com.

Naturally, the reaction in certain quarters was intense. This is the end of civilization as we know it, some thundered. Nah, others said, this is keeping it real — and the nod to reality was long overdue. An article about the new A.P. policy in The Washington Post on Wednesday produced more than 600 online comments, such was the depth of feelings.

via Is This the End of Proper Grammar? Hopefully Not – NYTimes.com.

Fanfare for the Comma Man – NYTimes.com

Ben Yagoda, professor of English at the University of Delaware, explores the comma and how its use changed over time. Click on the link below for the full piece.

Eight years ago, Lynne Truss’s best-selling “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” took, in the words of her subtitle, a “Zero Tolerance Approach” to the subject. Although Truss’s focus on errors drew the ire, if not the fire, of grammarians, linguists and other “descriptivists,” her book was, for the most part, harmless and legitimate. Still, it overlooked a lot. Maybe more than any other element of writing, punctuation combines rules with issues of sound, preference and personal style. And as Truss didn’t adequately acknowledge, even the rules change over time.

via Fanfare for the Comma Man – NYTimes.com.

Desperately Seeking Synonyms – NYTimes.com

In this second installment of Draft, a series of writing lessons, Constance Hale discusses nouns and adjectives and how to use them effectively in sentences.

Writers sometimes forget that the primary role of nouns is to paint a clear picture, and they pile up abstractions and leave us clueless as to the people, places, things or ideas they are writing about.

 

via Desperately Seeking Synonyms – NYTimes.com.